[Whether you plan to escape by plane, train, or car, sometimes you just need to pack up and go. In this post, Chaya of PantryParatus.com shares her real food travel tips – how she manages to avoid all the junk through flights and road trips while still having fun. ~Emily]
As a mom to a kid with food allergies, I’ve had to become a bit of an expert when it comes to food on the go.
First you should scratch just about anything that is handed through a window, purchased on a pit stop, and 99.5% of sit-down restaurants.
But then how do you keep your real food family from starving while hopping on a plane or making it through a road trip?
Here are my best tips for surviving travel with a happy tummy.
Well, as far as surviving—that’s up to you. But follow me and I’ll keep you fed, at the very least.
Real Food Travel Tips for the Airplane
This is tough stuff in the modern TSA era. The current regulations on liquids mean that many people give up before they start and concede to overpriced airport nastiness. The current rules are that you can bring 3.1 oz of liquids, and only as many of those as what equals a quart in sum total (source). So no, you’re not likely to get the prepackaged yogurt or juice box through the checkpoint.
One travel tip to keep in mind is the weight and space of bringing your own food. Plan ahead when planning your carry-ons. We make a food bag its own separate carry-on, so that we feel the load lighten as we eat it down.
Bring a water bottle. Our family swears by a specific kind that contains a purification unit inside—water fountain nastiness can be purified while we travel and then at our final destination. Since we’re all strong & raw milk-fed with no fear of getting sick from each other, we usually only bring 1 or 2 for us all to share in order to cut down on what we are carrying.
Crackers, tortillas, or veggie wraps. In a pre-vacation pinch (who has time for baking homemade?) we go for organic crackers. These will be your bread, the carrier of all good things. Sure, you can bring bread but it’s easily squished and takes more space.
Almond butter packets. These look like oversized ketchup packets and are available in the peanut butter section of most grocery stores; you might score and find them in the occasional mid-Airport food store (I saw them in Minneapolis at their cool mini-grocery store thing).
Single serve tuna. I usually skip on the tuna because of the problem of ethical harvesting (source), and some of the brands that do the single-serve are questionable; but it is a great suggestion nonetheless. Tuna is best eaten in the airport while waiting for the next flight, not when you are elbow-to-elbow with a complete stranger. Great on those crackers, though!
Sliced Cheese. Do yourself a serious favor and slice your own cheese ahead of time. Do you know how much they rip you off when you buy pre-sliced cheese? Remember that this should be eaten within the first 2-4 hours since it isn’t refrigerated. Cheese sticks aren’t a bad way to go, either, and are sometimes found in the airport drink/food kiosks. They will overcharge you though!
Sliced summer sausage. There is only 1 brand we can buy as a family and it is indeed a special treat for us (since we have to put our youngest kid up as collateral). But hey—it’s a vacation, right?
Dried fruit. Not sure how to make your own? Here’s a recipe for Apple Chips. Yum!
Homemade trail mix. Not difficult at all once you’ve tackled those homemade apple chips.
Fresh fruit like apples and bananas. Keep in mind that these take up a lot of space and weight, so you’ll be happier if you eat them earlier (like as your breakfast on a morning flight).
Veggie Chips. We make our own zucchini and tomato chips in the dehydrator, which are amazing with homemade ranch dressing. The problem is that you can’t sneak your homemade ranch dressing onto the plane, but if you were going to make a small cheat, you could get a dressing packet in with you. Check the organic section first to see if you can get something that doesn’t make you cringe, or skip the dressing and eat them plain.
Boiled Eggs. Simple and classic choice. Be nice to the guy at your elbow, again, though.
Homemade meat jerky. Homemade is the key, because of the added gunk with store-bought stuff.
The kids see the cheese, sausage, and crackers as a road trip tradition on par with turkey at Thanksgiving, and what we are eating is somewhat balanced. For me, I am not paying $2.00 for a single banana at the airport coffee kiosk, I have complete control over the ingredients we are eating, and the trip is far less stressful when there is food at-the-ready when you are traveling with kids or have close connecting flights.
Real Food Travel Tips for the Road
When on the road we build on the list above because we aren’t nearly as limited by airline restrictions. We always keep these things in our glove compartment, even when just tooling around town (in case we get home later than expected and need a quick bite in town).
- Small cutting board
- Knife in a plastic sheath
- Can opener
- Some plastic silverware
Now that you think we’re totally weird, this is why we never leave home without those things:
Instead of looking for a fast food restaurant, we search for the nearest grocery store on our GPS. You might have to drive an extra mile or two off of the interstate but it will be worth it. Skip the drive-through and, after visiting their bathroom, pick up these things while you are there:
- Block of cheese
- A loaf of bread (that you know you can live with)
- Either a cooked turkey, small ham, or chicken breast from the organic section, or just skip meat altogether (deli meat is full of corn, gluten, other allergens, and preservatives)
- A container of cottage cheese
- A can of pineapple rings
- Fresh vegetables & organic dressing for a dip
- Sugar snap peas
- A small jar of honey (or we bring our own—for the yogurt and/or bread)
- Kefir or kombucha in the drink section—and if you’re traveling through a state like Idaho, you can find raw milk on the shelf!
Whether by road or air, these real food travel tips will mean happy, well-fed travelers. That just might mean you will more than survive your next adventure, you very well might enjoy it.
Have you had luck finding real food on the road?
Let us know in the comments!
Chaya rolls up her sleeves for Kitchen DIY at Pantry Paratus, where she & her husband equip and educate others on where food comes from…and what to do with it. Visit their store and blog!